Naomi Osaka crushed Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-3 to secure her second Australian Open title yesterday and cement her standing as the new queen of the women’s game.
Osaka’s one-sided win over the 22nd-seeded American in the final at Rod Laver Arena gave the Japanese juggernaut her fourth major crown, with her career still budding at the age of 23.
She joined Monica Seles and Roger Federer as winners in their first four Grand Slam finals, marking her out as the ultimate big match performer.
“My reaction is that that’s very amazing company,” Osaka told reporters, sitting next to the winner’s Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.
“I hope that I can have one grain of how their career has unfolded. But you can only wish and you can only just keep going down your own path.
“But it’s definitely something crazy to hear.”
More major trophies surely await if she can convert her irresistible hardcourt form to French Open clay and grass at Wimbledon.
Having humbled Serena Williams in the semi-finals, a victory that reinforced a changing of the guard, Osaka was untroubled by Brady in the clash of power hitters.
She romped to a 21st straight win in completed matches, a streak dating back more than a year. Fans hoping for a repeat of the pair’s engrossing US Open semi-final last year were left disappointed as Brady froze in the spotlight of her first Slam final.
US Open champion Osaka was also short of her best tennis, joining Brady in producing a dour, error-strewn first set.
But she settled to clinch six straight games, roaring to a 4-0 lead in the second before serving out the match to love.
A big serve sealed it, causing Brady to fire a forehand return long, and Osaka held her racket over her head, beamed and gave a little leap in an understated celebration. “Tonight I felt like was (it) more of a mental battle,” said Osaka who also won the 2019 title.